Press Progress contacted dozens of Conservative MPs. Only two were wiling to denounce Ezra Levant's alt-right Rebel Media.
Editor’s note: Since this post was published Tuesday evening, additional Conservative MPs have told Press Progress they will no longer appear on Rebel Media. This post will be updated to note any additional disavowals.
One-quarter of all Conservative MPs have made guest appearances on Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media.
But when pressed if they’d do it again, few are willing to speak up.
Conservatives are facing growing pressure to distance themselves from the controversial alt-right website following Rebel Media’s coverage of a deadly alt-right rally attended by white supremacists and Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Rebel Media’s Faith Goldy traveled from Toronto to Virginia and broadcast statements expressing sympathy for white supremacists. Goldy later praised a manifesto written by neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer for its “robust” and “well thought out ideas” – the manifesto discusses topics like the “Aryan” race, the “Jews” and calls for “racially or ethnically defined states.”
Goldy’s coverage and Rebel Media’s “alt-right” turn triggered the surprise resignation of Rebel Media co-founder Brian Lilley on Monday night.
In a statement published on Facebook, Lilley said he’s become “uncomfortable” with Rebel Media’s “alt-right” turn, adding that Rebel Media “suffers” from a “lack of editorial and behavioural judgment that left unchecked will destroy it and those around it.”
Lilley was followed out the door by fellow Sun TV alumnus John Robson, who announced Tuesday he’s quitting Rebel Media too, explaining that “The Rebel has drifted too far from its mission” and “I now find the tone too unconstructive.”
Despite Lilley and Robson’s resignations, few Conservative MPs have shown the same willingness to speak out about the website’s toxic brand of far-right politics.
An analysis of the Rebel Media website by Press Progress reveals one-quarter of all Conservative MPs elected in 2015 have previously made appearances on the alt-right website.
Contacted by Press Progress, only two Conservative MPs immediately denounced Rebel Media’s activities in Charlottesville.
Conservative MP Michael Chong told Press Progress he will no longer do interviews with Rebel Media and condemned the website for its “promotion of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and calling for a democratically-elected premier to be locked up,” adding they are things “I strongly oppose and find offensive.”
In a statement to Press Progress, a spokesperson for Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said Rempel “strongly rejects the racist and xenophobic sentiment” of the manifesto Goldy praised and added that she “finds it deeply repugnant that anyone would characterize such content to be ‘well thought out’.”
Although she wouldn’t name Rebel Media directly, Rempel later tweeted that “flirting with or giving a wink and a nod to Nazism and white supremacy for clicks and likes is disgusting” and added she’s “not lending my name or platform to you” – “peace out.”
The rest of the Conservative caucus appears less worried about legitimating Rebel Media. So far, they’ve all remained silent.
That includes Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, a repeat guest of Rebel Media who gave one of his first interviews after winning the party’s leadership to the alt-right website and even appeared on Goldy’s show to criticize a non-binding motion condemning racism and Islamophobia.
In fact, Scheer’s campaign manager during the 2017 Conservative leadership race was Hamish Marshall – one of Rebel Media’s directors.
Here’s a quick list of Conservative MPs who did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Press Progress asking if they’d consider making any further appearances on Rebel Media:
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Scheer’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Edmonton-Griesbach
Conservative MP Kerry Diotte’s did not respond to multple requests for comment.
— KerryDiotte (@KerryDiotte) February 24, 2017
Conservative MP, Simcoe-Grey
Conservative MP Kellie Leitch did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Parry Sound-Muskoka
Conservative MP Tony Clement did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
Later on Twitter, Clement offered a series of ambiguous tweets before telling Press Progress “already said no, dude” when asked if he’ll go back on a website his “own colleagues say is anti-Semitic / white supremacist.”
I condemn National Socialists, wherever they lurk!
— Tony Clement (@TonyclementCPC) August 16, 2017
Conservative MP, Lakeland
Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Portage-Lisgar
Conservative MP Candice Bergen did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis
Conservative MP Steven Blaney did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Saskatoon-University
Conservative MP Brad Trost did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Beauce
Conservative MP Maxime Bernier did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment, but an assistant later replied that “Mr. Bernier is out of the country.”
Conservative MP, Red Deer-Lacombe
Conservative MP Blaine Calkins did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Louis-St-Laurent
Conservative MP Gerard Deltell did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Thornhill
Conservative MP Peter Kent did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment, but later disavowed Rebel Media, telling Press Progress on Twitter that Rebel Media’s recent content is “indeed hateful” and “repugnant.”
Kent also disavowed Rebel Media, ruling out any future appearances after “Rebel went off rails with hateful anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic content” and “now white supremacy.”
I ruled out appearances when Rebel went off rails with hateful anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic content. Now white supremacy — beyond the pale.
— Hon. Peter Kent (@KentThornhillMP) August 16, 2017
Conservative MP, Carleton
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte
Conservative MP Alex Nuttall did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Durham
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa
Conservative MP Robert Sopuck did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, South Surrey-White Rock
Conservative MP Dianne Watts did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MP, Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies
Conservative MP Bob Zimmer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Conservative MPs Lisa Raitt and Chris Warkentin have also appeared on Rebel Media podcasts.
Neither MP responded to multiple requests for comment.